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2SCALE and CropLife launched the first network of Spray Service Providers in Mali

Safe and responsible use of pesticides has three agreed benefits: better quality agricultural products, better yields and lower environmental impact. Following these three goals, 2SCALE and the CropLife Mali launched the first promotion of specialized Spray Services Providers (SSPs). The pilot project involved a group of 36 young rural (aged from 20 to 35 ) newly equipped with adequate knowledge and spraying materials.

The official ceremony for the release of this first wave of SSP took place on January 13 in Ségou, under the presidency of the Regional Director of Agriculture, Arouna Sangaré, and in the presence of the Regional Director of the Rice Office of Ségou, Tidiane Traoré, the mayor of the municipality of Sébougou, Modibo Traoré, the President of CropLife-Mali, Nonon Diarra, the Coordinator of 2SCALE in Mali, Baba Togola, and the representatives of local companies and farmers organizations involved in a vegetable partnership under development by 2CSALE in Segou, in Office du Niger.

“An SSP is a farmer, or any individual who receives special training from CropLife for the application of pesticides, and who leases his professional services to other farmers,” explained Nonon Diarra, the President of CropLife Mali. The concept was conceived and implemented by CropLife Africa Middle East to set up a network of professional service providers who can also act as intermediaries between pesticide suppliers and farmers.

This necessary professionalization requires that the application of pesticides should be a field of competence of only trained and accredited individuals. “When pesticides are handled by well-trained people, the risks of contamination for humans and the environment are greatly reduced, the right products are used at the right time and at the right dose, parasitism is controlled and better yields are achieved” insisted Nonon Diarra.
Over the recent years, CropLife and 2SCALE have introduced professional services of SSP in the sectors of fruit and soya in Ghana, tomato, chilies and maize sectors in Nigeria, and vegetables ones in Ethiopia.

In Mali, the partnership between 2SCALE and CropLife is focusing on the region of Segou within the framework of the vegetable partnership, which involves Guina Agricole as supplier of inputs, Madougou SARL, supplier of onion to The Bara Muso plant, and a vast network of 15,121 producers, of which more than 60% are women. Women in Mali have a higher illiteracy rate and because of their reproductive functions and household duties, they tend to be naturally more vulnerable to risks of intoxication than men. In the absence of professional services, female producers apply pesticides themselves using rudimentary tools, therefore exposing themselves and their children to various intoxications of which they are most of the time totally unaware.

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Sekou Diabaté, a young trained SSP receiving his diploma and badge from The Regional Director of Office Riz de Segou.

The SSP initiative is expected to alleviate this vulnerability of women in vegetable production. The activities began with the training of 13 trainers of trainers who, in turn, trained 36 young producers as SSP. After going through a test, each of the new professionals SSP received a training certification, a badge, a registry book to record their activities and a kit of spraying and protection materials. Although the pilot project focuses on vegetables, SPPs have received more general trainings, which make them operational to provide professional services to actors in other agricultural sectors. They are committed to purchase and use only registered pesticides, bought from established companies, and to provide advisory services to producers on the basis of competitive services. “The SSP will be monitored and evaluated for two years, after which the vouchers will be renewed, and unsuccessful ones will be disqualified and subject to the renewal of their badges”, said CropLife President Nonon Diarra.

The Managing Director of Madougou S.A.R.L regretted that “Mali imports onion 9 months out of 12, partly due to the low yield, itself induced by the inappropriate use of crop protection products”. Moreover, he added that for a trader to sell his onion in the Malian markets, he must claim that his products are imported, this reflects how little confidence consumers have in the quality of their products”.

Good quality and good yields are two key factors of competitiveness, explained Baba Togola, pointing out that 2SCALE is based on an essential value, which is sustainability, notably through the entrepreneurial spirit that underlies the economic model behind the SSP concept. For the Regional Director of Agriculture, the rapid population growth, coupled with soil depletion and the effects of climate change, makes “the protection of crops and plants a key condition to achieve sustainable and profitable agriculture. It is an issue of food and nutritional security”, he said, adding that “unfortunately, in most cases, the conditions for importing and using pesticides do not meet the established standards, thus posing a threat to farmers, consumers and the environment.  For these reasons, it’s imperative to professionalize services, and we praise the 2SCALE program for facing this challenge with local actors”, the official commented. He promised the commitment of the state to support the sustainability of the business model.

Responding the question how sustainable the concept could be, CropLife President Nonon Diarra said “By creating employment in local communities to address the specific constraints faced by producers on a fee-for-service basis, the SSPs will contribute to strengthening entrepreneurship and the linkages between local producers and input suppliers. We are confident that through the SSPs, farmers will not only improve the protection of their crop, but they will also experience health and environmental benefits and remain competitive on the markets.”

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